The International Committee of the Red Cross reports the number of war wounded in the Somali capital Mogadishu last year was the highest in a decade. It says the staff at two ICRC-supported hospitals treated a record number of people caught in the crossfire of opposing forces.
More than 6,000 patients were admitted to Keysaney and Medina hospitals last year. The figure, provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, compares with 5,000 treated at the Mogadishu hospitals in 2009 and around 2,800 the previous year.
ICRC spokeswoman Nicole Engelbrecht says the number of war wounded in 2010 reached new heights.
“There have been several peaks, but this is a new number and a higher number than in previous years and it looks like it shows a tendency because there is no end in sight to the fighting in Mogadishu," she said. "And the influx to the hospitals of patients with severe wounds does not seem to stop.”
Englebrecht says people arrive at the hospitals even in the middle of the night. And this, she says, could be an indication that the fighting in the city is becoming more frequent and more intense.
She calls this a very worrisome situation. She says the Red Cross is particularly concerned about the large number of civilians injured by weapons. Nearly 40 percent of them are women and children.
She says this large influx of patients is putting a heavy strain on doctors and others who care for the patients.
“They cannot stop and take a break because they constantly have to take care of wounded people and people with severe wounds," said Englebrecht. "That is also another problem-with head injuries or bullet wounds. So, it is very difficult to cope with this situation in the hospitals of Mogadishu at this moment.”
Englebrecht says hospital personnel treat all patients equally, regardless of their clan and religious or political backgrounds.
She says the decision on who gets treated first is based on the severity of the wound and the urgency of the case.
She says based on the figures of war wounded, it appears the fighting will continue and the number of war wounded will continue to escalate.
More than a million people are thought to have died since Somalia descended into civil war 20 years ago.